Capacity Building Should Occur in Context
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
We recommend to enable capacity building activities that are situated within the context of participants.
- Actively support in-person regional conferences, thematic gatherings, immersion experiences, mentoring, cohort learning and capacity-oriented partnerships
- Do this through accessible, sustained, transparent funding and technical assistance to organizers.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
Rationale: The infrastructure for capacity building will benefit from both central and decentral elements and activities. Everywhere there are Wikimedians and their organizations working towards free knowledge. Already, they work with each other locally and regionally, support and mentor each other, organize training, immersion and leadership development. These local and regional connections hold much potential for capacity building, if built upon and appropriately resourced.
This will also open more opportunities for outreach and joining - for people from smaller and marginalized communities who do not speak the currently dominant movement languages, or do not have access to travel funds.
Problem: The Wikimedia Movement is becoming too large to provide equitable access to capacity building through centralized bodies and events. In addition, in feedback we often heard the ‘one size fits not all’ argument: general trainings provided may be interesting, however often the content is not applicable to the specific context of the recipient or it is challenging for people to transition their learnings back to their local contexts.
This may actually have a detrimental, discouraging effect, causing Wikimedians in emerging communities to think that they do not fit in, their skills and environments are inadequate, and that they will never live up to what the ideal Wikimedia community or group should look like.
Contextualizing capacity building, on the other hand, will be respectful to local cultures and conditions, and empower participants to develop, test and share their own promising practices.
The second important insight we received from both internal and external of Wikimedia movement is that one-time trainings alone are insufficient to meet the many needs of people across the movement, as many are excluded from this because they cannot financially attend the few global gatherings. One-time trainings without mentoring, coaching, or contextual follow-up often emains without impact.
In many different educational settings it has been shown that peer-to -peer learning leads to better learning outcomes. Here an example from nursing education:
The positive effects of peer learning have been described as increased cognitive skills, self-confidence, autonomy, clinical skills and reasoning…. Furthermore,...., are increased self-evaluating skills, collaborative- and leadership abilities, critical thinking and the opportunity to share the experiences of a fellow student without the immediate interference of the preceptor.
Assumption: Training and peer support provides higher impact in a contextual, cultural, linguistic, and socio-political manner. Generic, one-size fits all training without accounting for these is not sensitive to the needs of a global community.
Definition: ‘Context’ for the purposes of this recommendation, means groups of Wikimedians who have a common capacity building needs. This context may come from:
- being located in the same or adjoining regions or the same country
- sharing a regional language
- sharing a demographic commonality, such as gender, orientation, age, creating shared safe spaces for participants
- similar thematic areas of interest or commitment
- communities or projects of a similar size or maturity stage (e.g., medium size Wikipedias)
- having the same type of organizational form or moving towards an organizational stage
- having assessed similar core capacity building needs based on thematic relationship
- individuals being in similar leadership or staff positions
In the current ecosystem to build capacities, we have seen more cases of making regional or thematic cohorts into capacity building, such as the small language communities platform in the Celtic Knots conference; or the example of Free Knowledge Advocacy Group of European Union that gather the public policy trends within Europe and hence make better advocacy capacity in the future.
Some of the new forms of capacity building initiatives may benefit by cohorting participants with similar needs, such as Wikimedians working in public policy, or security training for the community organizers in regions with negative records of privacy, or participants from the global open ecosystem of free and accessible knowledge. These can then be supported through mentoring and coaching to help them implement and evaluate their learning within their contexts.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
In the feedback from various community conversations across the globe, we have seen that many community members would like to have their capacity building needs addressed aligned with their cultural/social/geographic context.
To a degree, this has already been happening at regional conferences, and integrated into the current grassroot associations, conferences and cooperatives such as Iberocoop, ESEAP, CEE, Wiki-Indaba, Wiki-Arab, amongst others. It would be useful to include a clarification around developing objectives that can then be measured afterward to assess their success and impact.
The 2019 Wikimedia Conference changed to a purely strategic event and all capacity building was removed. The rationale here was that the conference was getting too big trying to meet multiple purposes, and that the training components would make more sense to be moved to regional events. This proposal helps establish capacity building opportunities within those local or contextual gatherings that are intended to increase.
Theory of Change: By engaging in capacity building activities based on common contexts, utilizing a mix of methods from training to one-on-one peer support formats, Wikimedians will increase their knowledge, skills, and resources, while also developing human connections in peer-based communities of practice.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
- Trainings will move from a one-size fits all approach to a localized, contextualized approach
- Exchange and communication may be easier in common language spaces
- New community connections may be forged around shared areas of interest
- Beyond-training formats/methods such as mentoring/coaching, on-site technical assistance, internships and circuit riders are easier to implement in a local/regional context
- The current foundation and WMDE centered model to host capacity building events may shift to the more resourceful affiliates in certain region as the key supporters for capacity building.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
Key direct target groups are the recipients and providers of capacity building, first and foremost community leaders and organizers, and affiliates, who are able to connect in contexts. Indirect beneficiaries will be editors and other community members, who will benefit from improved skills and resources in and for their communities.
Affected also may be WMF staff and funds, who would no longer be the main provider of training. The financial resources can instead shift to supporting the more contextual gatherings, while staff will be needed for the central components described in R1 and 2.
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Potential risks and their mitigation may include:
- Fragmentation/isolation of local efforts around building capacity
Mitigation: It will be important to make up for that through the more centralized structures we are outlining in recommendations 1 and 2.
- Lack of documentation, evaluation and quality assurance
Mitigation: see recommendation on evaluation (R6). By connecting people in local and regional contexts to evolving practices from other contexts, and by encouraging them to document and evaluate impact, this may be partially mitigated. Central unit will assure that events are documented and results and learnings are shared across the movement.
- Lack of funding for regional and contextual capacity building events and smaller initiatives
Mitigation: see recommendation on resources (R5). Local conferences, site visits, exchanges between people are resource intensive, and nowhere should it be assumed that this can be done without financial resources from the movement.
- Some marginalized people and regions still may be left out. A global conference may still be needed to make the peculiar community to work with others.
Mitigation: A global conference may still be needed to make the peculiar community to work with others. Likewise, case studies of successful implementations can be documented, discussed, and shared to help others learn about possibilities for successfully doing these within local contexts.
- Over-reliance on regional associations that may not currently be operating effectively.
Mitigation: A new movement R&R model is being developed (WGR&R), including stated objectives and clear evaluation / success criteria. This should take into account the role of regional hubs or bodies in facilitating capacity building events and activities.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
To date, contextual capacity building occurs mostly in regional contexts and through conferences. Scholarships are limited and not transparently awarded, as are methods and the resources to assure follow-up between face2face meetings. If implemented, this recommendation will expand on this and create more opportunities in more contexts for more people.
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
All capacity building recommendations are interconnected and interdependent. Combined, they form a capacity building system that is based on central structures and resources, while capacity building activities take place largely in a decentralized, contextual and tailored fashion.
Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?
All capacity building recommendations have been developed in response to the scoping questions and community input through Meta, local and regional gatherings, and collaboration across the Movement working groups.
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Resource Allocation/Revenue Streams: there will be a need for significant additional resources for building capacities regionally, locally and contextually. Travel funds will still be expanded, as well as material, translation and event cost. Affiliates and associations cannot be expected to raise these funds alone, however could be contributing in-kind and other resources.
Roles and Responsibilities: this recommendation creates a distributed, decentralized responsibility for carrying out capacity building, connected through central structures from other recommendations. It provides a clear, crucial role in capacity building to regional organizations and groups, however these may be formed or governed.
Diversity: this addresses diversity in that contextualized capacity building allows for respecting diverse cultures and varying levels of skills or organizational maturity. It may empower people with common gender, age or orientation backgrounds and give them voice and opportunities to support each other. It will still be a challenge for communities to provide equitable opportunities for learning and growing.
Community Health: This recommendation, along with our recommendation 2, is built on the idea of social capital, on the assumption that personal connections between people strengthen the movement, and contribute to the health of its communities. Providing resources to local and regional communities of practice, while operating guided by movement values and ethics will contribute to building healthy communities.
Partnerships: Building regional and contextual communities of practice will build collaborative capacity within the movement and in interacting with partners from regional contexts.
Advocacy: Building advocacy capacity in domestic contexts, as well as building it across the movement.
Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?
While this recommendation focuses on funding in-person capacity building that are more contextual, opportunities for online gatherings and real-time remote contributions and participation should also be considered as supportive of these needs.